Restaurant Scene: Alleia is the perfect Italian restaurant in a metropolis filled with Italian eating places

I preserve considering I am about to catch a glimpse of Drake from my peripherals. He’s happy with his deep roots in Tennessee, in Memphis specifically. I do know he is been aware of Chattanooga since he shouted out the city together with his 2015 track “30 for 30 Freestyle.” I additionally know he has an affinity for Italian meals. His verses are peppered with references to the kitchen. On “Center of the Ocean,” he raps about “brief rigatoni with the pesto.” On “Keep Schemin'” he mentions “spaghetti bolognese on the Polo Lounge” and brags that his “summer season weight-reduction plan is all rosé and calamari” on “4 p.m. in Calabasas.” Drake would love Chattanooga’s Alleia as a lot as Il Mulino – well-known for its branzino – tremendous stylish Carbone and Sotto Sotto, a brick and chandeliered “ristorante” in his hometown of Toronto.


What: Rustic Italian meals with a regional twist in a dim, stylish setting.

The place: 25 E. Principal Road.

O’clock: 5:00 pm – 9:00 pm Monday to Saturday, closed on Sunday.

Costs: $16 for the fried Rhode Island calamari to $28 for the angel hair pasta with gulf shrimp and soffitto.

Reservations: 423-305-6990 or

Designed by Rodney Simmons of Revival Studios, Alleia is obscure and edgy, but someway mushy sufficient across the edges to be described as cozy. The oddly mesmerizing waterfall of candle wax, the bespoke banquet that appears to increase from the eating room to at the very least the Shallowford Street exit, the heat of the earth tones all make it aesthetically distinctive in comparison with something presently in existence in Chattanoogaland.

Certain, there are mainstays, however a good portion of Alleia’s menu is fluid and may change day by day primarily based on the supply of black truffles and yellow-rimmed grouper or if a specific heirloom tomato is not in season or if a specific watermelon is. is. Or if the chef has simply returned from a visit to the Amalfi Coast, tanned, smelling of nebbiolo – an Italian purple grape selection – and impressed to make beef carpaccio one thing epic. An instance of this fluidity is the pillowy gnocchi. Typically it is paired with hen sausage and shiitake mushrooms, whereas at different occasions the mixture leans towards blue crab and oyster mushrooms.

In my view, the nonnetto, or grandfather, of all antipasti choices is calamari. I’ve by no means been to an Italian restaurant and did not order it. Don’t be concerned concerning the incorrect individuals considering calamari tastes like seafood-flavored rubber bands. They’ve by no means eaten the fried squid right here. Alleia’s calamari is shipped from Rhode Island, which is to calamari what Japan’s Hyogo prefecture is to wagyu beef, and can also be house to the annual Narragansett calamari competition. I counsel a squeeze of lemon earlier than you fall in love with how they’re crunchy and mushy on the similar time.

The gulf shrimp entangled within the angel hair pasta are cooked so completely that their tails haven’t any probability of ever touching their heads. This angel hair dish specifically trampled my ignorance that sofrito was restricted to boricuas cooking pollo guisado and arroz con gandules in El Barrio, aka Spanish Harlem. Alleia doesn’t relegate veal to the standing of a cutlet. It’s by no means pounded to a pulp, breaded and fried. As a substitute, it’s simmered and folded into ribbons of pappardelle, a flat pasta. Even when most assume the one technique to devour ravioli is to stuff it with some type of lobster-based filling, Alleia’s ravioli may be stuffed with pumpkin, garnished with crushed walnuts and barely floating in a pool of brown butter . There’s even a recurring presence of agnolotti, a folded and crammed pasta, and crinkle mafalda and conchiglie, all made recent day by day.

There are issues at Alleia that scream Italian, like Luciano Pavarotti – for instance, the traditional margherita pizza that comes out of their stunning 750-degree oven so skinny you possibly can most likely fold it right into a paper airplane. The hand-dipped ricotta bruschetta and lambrusco. Then there are different issues at Alleia that talk damaged Italian with an oriental Tennessee accent, like venison, fig-infused whiskey, and Madisonville’s delight, Benton’s bacon. It is wrapped round quail breast and medjool dates, including the unfiltered pork to the spaghetti all’Amatriciana and legitimizing the concept that “bacon makes every little thing higher.”

Merely put, Alleia is the perfect Italian restaurant in a metropolis filled with Italian eating places.

I am not criticizing Il Primo’s hen marsala or the prosciutto e meloone at Boccaccia – though Provino’s makes use of common Parmesan as an alternative of Grana Padano, and even when Tony’s Pasta Store and Trattoria’s cannoli cream has been thawed out of the freezer and put within the grenades made in a manufacturing unit someplace in New Jersey. All of them play a significant position within the higher good of Chattanooga’s eating panorama. I’d by no means make enjoyable of anybody who thinks Olive Backyard shrimp scampis are scrumptious. I’ll by no means counsel that you just deny your self Fazoli’s loaded fettuccine.

That is merely an announcement that Alleia is the Italian “ristorante” Chattanooga wants if it desires to affix the dialogue about being a “cosmopolitan” metropolis.

Or if somebody desires to take a selfie with Drake as he walks down East Principal Road from his tagliatelle bolognese.

Contact Andre James at [email protected] or 423-757-6327. Join his weekly ‘What to Eat Subsequent’ publication at